Tonight the US Men's National Team played the Canadian side in a friendly* international game in Houston. This is the final warmup for the US team before qualifiers begin for the 2014 World Cup, in February.
- I like seeing these games on ESPN2 instead of in the ghetto of Fox Soccer Channel or NBC Sports Channel or Bill and Ted's Excellent Unpopular Sports Network. Bonus: it turns out that the US has knowledgeable soccer announcers. We don't have to use Martin Tyler every time.
- The crowd was so drunk that they couldn't quite manage to keep the "USA, USA, USA" song (to the tune of Pop Goes the World) on key or in time.
- After losing 4-0 in a friendly to Denmark last week, Canada is obviously playing for the 0-0 draw tonight. They came out in a 4-5-1 that may as well have been a 9-1-0. The US is totally unable to get past them.
- This is the first time since 2007 that the US MNT started a game entirely with Major League Soccer players. It really shows. They haven't played much together, either, and are obviously disjointed, are mis-hitting the ball, overpowering clearances, and so on. Too many guys seem like they're trying to show off for coach Jurgen Klinsman instead of trying to help win the game.
- The US goalkeeper, Sean Johnson, is getting practically no work except on Dwayne DeRosario counterattacks.
- God, how I hate that soccer fans hurl streamers onto the field during play.
- January in Houston: Hell? Or the Abyss?
- The announcers just commented on how the US attack was unable to penetrate the Canadian defense, and my wife exclaimed, "Yes! They're flaccid! That's the problem!"
- Eddie Johnson looks slower than I'm used to seeing.
- Sub Joshua Gatt is trying to dribble through everybody, and falling down when he fails to do so.
- I love when Graham Zusi plays for the MNT, because he doesn't consistently do well, and any time he screws up, I get to holler, "ZUSI! YOU GOT SOME SPLAINING TO DO!"
- Juan Agudelo spent a lot of time looking for a missing contact lens, or something, on the ground just outside the Canadian 18-yard box. Sometimes it appeared that a Canadian player bumped him just before the crawling and wailing, but at other times there was nothing of the sort.
- The Canadians had to sub out their center back, which tells you precisely the game they're playing.
- A few Americans looked OK:
BradChris Wondolowski, Brad Davis, and Kyle Beckerman. Not surprisingly, these are the guys who have played with the national team before.
- Final score 0-0. I guess this was better than watching the Islanders smear the Penguins. Marginally.
* in soccer parlance, a friendly is a real, full-speed game that doesn't count in standings or toward a tournament results